N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
For decades there have been warnings about what it would mean if NATO moves east. On February 5, 1997, US diplomat George Kennan wrote in the New York Times: ‘NATO enlargement is the most fatal mistake of US policy in the entire post-Cold War era’. On June 26 of the same year, dozens of US senators and diplomats wrote an open letter to President Clinton: ‘The undersigned believe that the current US-led effort to expand NATO is a policy mistake of historic proportion’. The letter ends: ‘(We) believe that NATO enlargement is neither necessary nor desirable and that this ill-conceived plan can and should be stopped’. But ambitious politicians, driven by the desire to neutralise the Russian bear forever, did push NATO’s borders to the east.
Of course, this does not take away any responsibility for what the Russians are currently doing in Ukraine: death and destruction! But reality compels us to accept that the Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to think in tsarist and then communist power norms. He promotes traditional Russian policy in which buffer states around Russia’s core territory are considered existential. Freedom loving Ukrainians are paying the price for Putin’s desire. They also pay the price for the recklessness of the Western elites to push aside Russia’s traditional sensibility.
Behind the scenes, Western politicians have heavily influenced the politics of corrupt Ukraine. Joe Biden has played a still unexplained role in it; allegedly a Ukrainian energy company gave his son $50.000 a month as gift. Expectations have been created by the EU, which are now fading with the realisation that the fire has been started and the Cold War is restored. And Russia? It will have to pay a dramatic economic price for its brutal behaviour.